G. Arunima

Professor, Centre for Women's Studies
Jawaharlal Nehru University, India

"Religion, Politics, Rights: How does Gender Figure in All This?" 
The post-secular turn in feminist thought, and political practice has had different manifestations globally. While finding an earlier body of Islamic feminist scholarship and its challenging of, and recasting, liberal assumptions about feminist politics, stimulating I would suggest that this too needs re-examining within particular situations and locations. This becomes particularly relevant in the context of countries like India that are witnessing an alarming increase in right wing Hindu nationalism.

In this paper I propose to read the manner in which the Hindu right speaks of ‘rights’ and ‘duties’ of women alongside a consistent attack of the secular foundations of the country. These I would suggest are intimately linked and critical to their project of creating a ‘Hindu rashtra (nation)’ and legitimizing a politics of religious supremacy. Integral to this project is undermining the citizenship rights of religious minorities. The questions here then are how to read the Hindu Right’s vision of women’s rights, and gender relations. Even as the older critique of liberal feminism opened up ways of rethinking rights, and subjectivity, can this travel across different religious, and political contexts? Can the critique of the secular by the religious Right be read in the same manner as that within other discursive domains that emerge within religiously inspired feminist idioms? These are some of the questions I hope to address in this paper.